If you want a rock and blues amp that can also cover a great deal of clean territory, then the Friedman BE-50 Deluxe might be the only amp you need given its incredible sonic versatility.
Friedman amplifiers have obtained iconic status as top quality gear that come at a premium price, and the BE-50 Deluxe is no exception. The amp combines the tones of the celebrated BE and HBE amplifiers as well as the clean tones of the Buxom Beauty. Though it’s not cheap, the BE-50 Deluxe is arguably the most versatile amplifier that Dave Friedman has ever produced. Let’s take a look.
The BE-50 Deluxe is a 3-channel 50 watt head with twin dirty channels based on the BE and HBE models and a clean channel based on the pedal-friendly Buxom Betty amplifier. It is powered by two EL34 tubes with four 12AX7s for the preamp There are universal controls for Thump, Response, and Presence. The dirty channel (based on the BE and HBE amplifiers) has independent master and gain controls with shared treble, middle, and bass. The clean channel (based on the Buxom Betty amplifier) has controls for volume, treble, middle, and bass. The front panel also contains a set of mini toggles for Voice (for tailoring the top end of the amp’s eq), Fat (making the amp sound bigger, particularly for single coils), and Bright (which affects the clean channel only). If the footswitch is not connected, there is a front toggle that selects the desired channel.
On the rear panel, you’ll find a mini-toggle for Gain Structure, which lets you adjust the overall gain. A Sat switch adds more gain, saturation, and compression. There is also a bypassable effects loop with return level control. A unique addition is an impedance selector switch which lets you select 4, 8, or 16 ohms for the speaker out jacks. A power selector switch allows you to switch from 50 to 25 watts.
Friedman amps are highly celebrated for their broad range of rock and blues tones, and the BE-50 Deluxe is no exception. The lead channel alone makes the amp worthy of its admittedly high price tag. But when you add the incredibly versatile clean channel (from the “Buxom Betty” amp), the BE-50 Deluxe becomes a true triple threat. The clean tones are incredibly (dare I say it) “pedalboard friendly”), so in addition to the already versatile onboard lead tones, the BE-50 Deluxe plays well with a variety of overdrive and distortion pedals, including Friedman’s own excellent line of overdrive pedals.
There are few amps that constant the BE-50 Deluxe’s tonal versatility. It may look like another high gain monster (and there are those tones aplenty in this amp), but I honestly cannot think of any genre of music where the BE-50 Deluxe wouldn’t be welcome. It plays well with a wide range of guitars and allows the character of single coil and humbucker guitars to emerge clearly. Sure, with the onboard BE and HBE gain tones on board, the amp is a real best when it comes to rock and metal. But the sonic versatility extends to blues and clean-based tones, due to the included Buxom Betty clean channel. While I would appreciate a master volume for master tonal flexibility, the BE-50 Deluxe’s clean channel is clean and loud, so it will likely never be an issue.
Though it doesn’t come cheap, the Friedman BE-50 Deluxe is a veritable Swiss Army Knife of modern guitar amplification. While it doesn’t come cheap over $3,000, the BE-50 Deluxe is the kind of amp you buy once and keep forever. If you want a rock and blues amp that can also cover a great deal of clean territory, then the BE-50 Deluxe might be the only amp you need given its incredible sonic versatility.
Name of Gear: Friedman BE-50 Deluxe
List Price: $3499.99
Manufacturer Info: Friedman Amplification; friedmanamplification.com
Pros: Wide range of dirty and clean tones
Cons: Expensive; no master volume on clean channel